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(nearly) 3yo - should I be worried?

(19 Posts)
Gracie123 Wed 01-Dec-10 08:43:26

My nearly 3yo DS is very mature in some areas and I guess advanced in some (he walked early, talked early, incredibly sensitive to mummys emotions etc...) but is struggling in other areas.
I'm really hoping someone on here has some advice on how to help him cope in the areas he is struggling in.

The first is that he doesn't like groups. Whilst he is happy to play with anyone (walks up to other kids in parks etc) if there are more than 2 or 3 children present he will just sit in a corner and play by himself. If you ask him later if he had fun he says he was scared.

He has been known to burst into tears when someone asked him if he wanted a drink at a party (and it was an adult he knew really well!)

Why does he find crowds so overwhelming? As far as I'm aware, he's never had a bad experience. It's his birthday this week and he has chosen the guestlist, he says he wants a party, but keeps talking about how scared he will be. I've asked him if he would prefer to cancel it, but he doesn't want to.

The second issue is change. He's coped well with a lot (we've moved house twice in the last year, half way across the country, so lost all friends) and had a new baby sister, but recently he has started throwing insane tantrums if I move a picture, or sit on the 'wrong' chair, or leave a pillow on the 'wrong' sofa. He cried for nearly 45 minutes the today because I have flipped the calendar page from November to December and he says it makes him scared and/or 'it hurts me'.

What is going on? How can I help him cope with change better?


Gracie123 Wed 01-Dec-10 09:07:25


Al1son Wed 01-Dec-10 09:48:36

He sounds very like my DD1 who was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome this year aged 13. She's very high functioning and only really began to struggle because she found the transition to high school unmanageable. Most of my family and friends don't believe she even has it.

From the things you've highlighted I guess you may have thought about autistic spectrum disorders and if that is the case perhaps you should consider seeing your GP before he starts school. If they decide he's doesn't have significant symptoms that will hopefully set you mind at rest.

In terms of supporting him I think the best thing you can do is be very reassuring, don't force him into situations he'll find truly overwhelming but encourage him to deal with things as much as he can.

He needs to accept change but he also needs you to acknowledge that he finds it difficult to cope with. Give him plenty of warning before you change things and make sure that you do what you've said you will.

Encourage him to play with groups by being with him for reassurance. Don't try to sneak off because that will make him more anxious.


Gracie123 Wed 01-Dec-10 10:09:49

Thanks for getting back. I don't really believe it's autism because he is so aware of my emotions, and my experience of autism (we have some in the family) is that sufferers find reading peoples emotions very difficult.

It just seems so sad that he finds these everyday things scary.

He also talks through his favourite teddy a lot eg. 'Charlie feels sick' when he I sick or 'Charlie has a sore knee' if he has grazed his knee (Charlie being the bears name and not his)

The final thing is that he has made up a person called goggi who lives in his tummy (this has been going on nearly a year) and when he is hungry he'll say 'the goggi is angry - he needs some food' or if he is sick 'the goggi is sad'.

Not sure if this is just normal 2yo behaviour or if I should be making any connection between this and his fear of crowds/change.

tomhardyismydh Wed 01-Dec-10 10:26:24

my dd is a little like this but less extreme. she likes to be in controle of things and lead the change etc. she is socialble and loves paties etc. she is 4 but I would say at your ds age she very much entertained herself and didnt join in too much in crowds. she is not asd at all though.

some of her behaviour is related to getting a reaction and trying to control me. I simply dont respond to this let her cry etc and reassure once she is composed.

the imaginary friend is very normal some children have them from very early and they natuary disapear. my dd invented hers very late and still pops up every now and again. I would say talking thorough teddy isnt a big deal I would encourage him to talk about his own feelings also. ie so charlie is you feel unwell also.

unsure about the fear tbh of daily tasks etc. Hopefully someone will be along with some perspective on that. Alot of children with aspergers do have insight into emotions and imagination.

loler Wed 01-Dec-10 10:27:08

He sounds a lot like my dd - first dc, pretty clever and just likes things to stay the way they are so that they are in her comfort zone. She's 7 now and is aware that she prefers small groups of friends but forces herself into other things (she loves football so a big thing for her was to go to football training where she knew no-one).

When I talked to dh about my worries when she was little, he pointed out that she was just like us - we have a few good friends and would both rather not do big groups and unfamiliar situations if given the choice. We've both done OK for ourselves so it doesn't have to be a problem.

We've dealt with dd worries by talking them through and saying the bubbles in the tummy are being nervous and not scared and that almost everyone else feels the same.

I think at 3 it's a bit early to be putting labels on dc but if anything he just sounds a bit shy, and the dislike of change sounds perfectly reasonable given the house moves. And how stressful for you - 2 x moves, new baby and a toddler - hope you've made lots of new friends and have a chance to enjoy your new home!

tomhardyismydh Wed 01-Dec-10 10:27:43

sounds a little like ocd

loler Wed 01-Dec-10 10:30:30

"some of her behaviour is related to getting a reaction and trying to control me" This is so true - really good book about child behaviour is divas and dictators. Provides really good strategies.

Gracie123 Wed 01-Dec-10 11:09:54

Tom I guess OCD is more my concern really. He spends a long time lining all his toys up in a 'parade' and becomes extremely upset if one of them gets moved.

It is young to be labelling, and I don't really want anything diagnosed. Was just wandering how people cope with these tendencies in their DC.

We do try and do the whole 'charlies tired? Are you tired too?' but it is always followed by screams of 'no!' despite it obviously being true.

He genuinely is a really sweet boy and I'm aware it looks like I'm satin he is a screaming brat. He isn't, our house is generally very peaceful and he is very calm, but when one of these things comes up he becomes unreasonably upset. I guess I notice it because it is so out of character:

loler Wed 01-Dec-10 11:29:29

That's a typical 3ager for you - and it gets worse! My ds2 who's 3 is perfect 90% of the time - but if anyone dare touch his toy story collection....I guess 3 is the age that obsessions are created. His best friend has the same obsession with his thomas collection. They are just controlling their world.

Al1son Wed 01-Dec-10 11:56:53

OCD and ASD have lots in common with each other, other disorders like sensory processing and also with being perfectly normal. You can have some symptoms of them quite strongly but not have enough to tick all the boxes for a particular diagnosis. Everybody seems to have a bit of ASD in them about something.

The time to worry is when it begins to have a really negative impact on a child's life. He sounds like a lovely little boy and the more you say the more you take me back to DD1 being little. If she'd been able to cope with High School we'd never have even thought about AS. In all other areas of her life she copes well. She's always been very cooperative, gentle and kind. There were just a few odd things that she couldn't cope with and responded to in a manner which was very out of character.

I would be really surprised if anyone gave him a diagnosis at this age but it may help you if he needs a little extra support at school if these concerns have been noted now.

My DD2 (who is also being assessed) told me the other day that, when I put a bag in a different place in the car from usual, it made her feel scared even though she knew why I did it. It wasn't about wanting to control me but it still upset her.

I try hard not to spring surprises on my girls but I don't tolerate them behaving badly because something upsets them. If they make a mess in a meltdown they tidy it up afterwards. If they break something they miss a treat so it can be replaced. They live in the real world and their behaviour has real consequences so they have to learn that. I don't get cross when they get stressed but I don't accept ASD traits as an excuse.

Calmness, consistency and support are key words for us.

I think you're doing the right thing by continuing to challenge your son in a gentle way.

Gracie123 Wed 01-Dec-10 12:02:58

Thanks Alison. That's what I needed to hear. I guess i was concerned that i might be having unrealistuc expectations of him to control himself when something upsets him, but you've just highlighted to me the fact that even though your DDs are ass, they don't get away with nabbing with no consequences.

I do try not to upset him (I only vacuum at night or when he is out doing something with daddy because from birth the sound of the cleaner sends him insane) but I also want him to grow up understandin that some things in life will upset him and he'll have to learn to cope. I can't always leave my calendar showing November!!! wink

Gracie123 Wed 01-Dec-10 12:03:48

Obviously I meant ASD - not ass. Stupi iPhone predictive text...

Al1son Wed 01-Dec-10 12:36:55

I think you've got the right approach. I guess next month could be a bit of a struggle with lots of things changing over Christmas and New Year anyway but I'd use the run up to New Year to prepare him for the new calendar. That way he'll have some time to get used to the idea before it happens. Don't expect him to say it's fine to do it but he should find it easier with some warning.

We've just had half out house redecorated but the insurance company. DD2 was upset by the idea and found the week in which it happened very stressfull but I know it was easier because we spent the few weeks beforehand talking about it. Everything she was warned about was easier to accept. The one thing we forgot to say was that the re-plastered kitchen ceiling would not be white at first so that caused a major meltdown but that was the only one which I think was pretty good going considering.

Warning them gets to be second nature once you start but then you feel really guilty the day you forget and they freak out about something.

tomhardyismydh Wed 01-Dec-10 13:06:56

from reading your last post this behaviour seems quite normal for his age. and I think you are quite right about labels.

Gracie123 Wed 01-Dec-10 13:08:41

I know what you mean. I always try to prepare him for things, even how I expect him to behave in the grocery store - each time we go in - so that it is almost second nature. I just didn't think things like changing the calendar were worth mentioning because nothing was required of him and I couldn't understand why that would upset him.

Is it possible to become ASD?
I'm finding he's getting worse, but maybe that's just because we've had a lot of change this year. The calendar is newish (we only got it at the end of october, it's an academic one) so he hasn't seen it change before really - prior to that I was just a disorganised mum!

He seems to cope so well now, but just wandering whether this is something that could get worse, or whether it is something we just haven't noticed too much so far blush

Al1son Wed 01-Dec-10 14:15:28

I've found with my girls that if something is worrying them their ability to cope reduces and their traits become more obvious.

They've also not thought to mention some things which upset them because it never came up in conversation. According to one CAMHS psychologist that happens often with children with ASD because they assume you already know so there's no point in telling you. Then one day they realise they don't just have to put up with it and start making a fuss.

I don't think they become more ASD. I just think they get better at communicating what they find upsetting. This is still happening with DD1 who's 13.

DD2 is very subtle about her OCDish traits and I've only just begun to notice her need to touch things with certain parts of her body or a certain number of times. She's very clear that she's done it for all of the 7 years of her life but for some reason needed to keep it a secret.

Maybe as he settles in to your new house, gets used to his sister being around and feels more secure he'll start to relax again, be more accepting of change and feel safer in large groups of children. He might always feel uncomfortable in certain situations but find ways to cope and never need any support or assessment.

solongandthanksfor Wed 01-Dec-10 14:19:28

Have you heard of the book The Highly Sensitive Child? If you google it, you'll find it, and an online set of questions. Some of your ds's behaviour seems to chime in with being highly sensitive. The book's quite interesting - I read it with regard to my dd, and I found it has helped me to understand her behaviour & tolerate her foibles.

Gracie123 Wed 01-Dec-10 15:13:05

Thanks solong - I'll have a look.

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